Energy and ICT

A section of Smart Cities (ISSN 2624-6511).

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This proposal is based on the evidence that today the two areas, energy and ICT, are increasingly interacting. For many years, ICT has been known to support the energy field, and in fact ICT for energy was and is a hot topic. These days, energy for ICT is becoming the hottest topic. In fact, the reliance of society on the use of ICT devices and systems is increasing, causing over 8% of all electricity consumption and 4% of all CO2 emissions, considering that TV and other media are now also translated onto ICT devices and systems. The energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from the expanding ICT use is unsustainable and will impact heavily on future climate change. Communications consumes significantly more energy per bit of information than any logical calculation inside an ICT system. ICT through cloud computing and the mobile consumption of video is significantly increasing the volume of data communicated between devices. This is due also to big data, which is becoming more and more invasive. Exascale computers must be capable of reaching 1018 operations per second, and high-performance computing (HPC) systems need to increase the energy efficiency of computing.

On the other hand, the so-called Internet of things (IoT) scenario foresees that an ever-increasing number of smart, mobile, sensing and communicating devices will be dispersed within ordinary appliances and commonly used tools. In order to meet the performance of foreseeable energy harvester generators, the amount of power required by such devices needs to be significantly reduced. Energy consumption could be minimized if smart communications minimizing the amount of data being transported is used over other techniques. The development and fast deployment of new communications systems with low energy consumption per bit is essential to circumvent the enormous increase in data volume from the cloud and especially high definition video.

Whilst the direct contribution to CO2 emissions of ICT devices might be small, ICT devices have the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of CO2 in transportation, heating and cooling, building control and manufacturing.

For autonomous systems, significant improvements in energy harvesting and energy storage at the small scale would also provide disruptive solutions for the use of smart sensors for a host of applications in personalized healthcare, environmental monitoring, industrial monitoring, security and transportation. Such applications have the potential for significant reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. This target can also be reached by the use of sustainable energy, and in particular renewable energy systems must be increased to power the majority of ICT systems. Moreover, the future and important role of the blockchain should be noted, which can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. This feature will become more and more important in the numerous energy markets all over the word. In fact, there are numerous research studies and projects related to energy exchanges, above all based on renewable energy systems. Thus, the blockchain will become a reliable support to establish the goodness of the energy transfers. Finally, the CO2 emissions are strongly dependent on the transportation systems, thus the electric vehicles (cars, bikes, buses on and so on) are considered as main actors to reduce the CO2 emissions. The Electric Vehicles (EVs) can be grouped in several categories, such as Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), including Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEVs), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEVs). Again, the technology allows the EVs to exchange energy with the electric grid in both directions: from the grid to the EV, named Grid-To-Vehicle (G2V), or from the EV to the grid, named Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G). ICT also allows the information exchange among the vehicles, named Vehicle-To-Vehicle (V2V), and the autonomous or semi-autonomous driving. Each of these operating conditions requires energy and the energy minimization, also supported by RES, is become an hot topic.

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